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The Commonwealth Medical College Awarded Grant from American Institute for Cancer Research to Fund Colorectal Cancer Research

Tuesday, December 01, 2020

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Scranton, PA – Michael Bordonaro, PhD, Assistant Professor of Molecular Biology in the Basic Sciences Department at The Commonwealth Medical College recently received a $165,000 grant from The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) to study the effects of dietary fiber in reducing colorectal cancer.  The grant, co-written by Darina Lazarova, PhD, will help investigators examine the effects of dietary fiber and its degradation product, butyrate, on the risk of colon cancer. This grant is the first AICR grant awarded to TCMC.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common form of cancer and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths of both men and women in the United States. Conflicting research studies have shown that consuming more dietary fiber may or may not reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. As Principal Investigator (PI) for the research project, Dr. Bordonaro in collaboration with Dr. Lazarova, will investigate how cancer cells in the colon become resistant to butyrate (a fermentation product from dietary fiber) may shed light on the preventive role of dietary fiber against colon cancer.  “It is our hope that knowledge of these factors which determine the response of malignant cells to butyrate will result in more efficient dietary recommendations and improved preventive and therapeutic strategies against colon cancer,” stated Dr. Bordonaro.   

To date, The Commonwealth Medical College has submitted over 100 research applications to the NIH and other research agencies and has received a total of 3.7 million in state and federal grant funding.  “This is our first grant from the AICR which is testament to our commitment to an active research program that will lead to more efficient cancer treatments and therapies for the residents of Northeastern Pennsylvania,” stated Robert D’Alessandri, MD, President and Dean of The Commonwealth Medical College.

Dr. Bordonaro holds a PhD in the Biological Sciences from Fordham University, Bronx, NY.   Additionally, Dr. Bordonaro completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Department of Oncology at the Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, New York, where he received an American Institute for Cancer Research Postdoctoral Award for his work on the effects of dietary components on the development of colorectal cancer.  Dr. Bordonaro later held the position of Associate Research Scientist at the Yale University School of Medicine and has also served as a research coordinator for Keren Pharmaceutical.  His research interests are in molecular oncology, particularly the Wnt signaling pathway in colorectal cancer, as well as in studying the role of cell signaling pathways in type 2 diabetes and human aging.

Darina Lazarova, PhD is Assistant Professor of Molecular Biology in the Basic Sciences Department.  She received her PhD in Cell Biology at Fordham University, New York and did her Postdoctoral work at Yale University School of Medicine.  Her research interests include the molecular mechanisms by which histone deacetylase inhibitors exercise their effects on cancer cells, the networks established between major signaling pathways that allow malignant cells to resist therapeutic interventions, and the modulation of these networks to overcome the robustness of the tumors.

Background Information: The Commonwealth Medical College, one of the nation’s newest medical colleges, welcomed its charter class of sixty-five medical students and Masters of Biomedical Sciences (MBS) students in August 2009. The College has campuses in Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and Williamsport and currently has over 113 full time employees and over 557 clinical faculty members. For the academic years of 2009 and 2010, students will use temporary facilities on the Lackawanna College campus until construction of the new TCMC Medical Sciences Building is completed in April 2011. The Commonwealth Medical College is dedicated to training the next generation of physicians and scientists in a community-based model. Focusing on selecting students with a propensity for community service, the school’s unique structure is designed to provide these students with diverse clinical experiences from the very first day of their education. For information please go to

TCMC has been granted degree-granting authority from the Pennsylvania Department of Education and preliminary accreditation from the Liaison Committee of Medical Education. The Commonwealth Medical Education Corporation is an Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE).